SALT LAKE CITY — Newly called LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson called President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring to the First Presidency, which is the highest governing body of the church, on Tuesday.
President Oaks will serve as first counselor and President Eyring as second counselor in the First Presidency, which was dissolved following the death of President Thomas S. Monson on Jan. 2. During the 12-day period between President Monson's death and the appointment of his successor, President Nelson acted as the leader of the church as the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
President M. Russell Ballard will take President Nelson's place as the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as the second senior member of the quorum. As the senior apostle, President Oaks would have been the president of the quorum had he not been called into the First Presidency.
President Dallin H. Oaks was called as an apostle at the same time as President Nelson in 1984, but was ordained after President Nelson.
The most recent instance where a member of the First Presidency wasn't called again to the presidency after a prophet died was in November 1985, after President Spencer W. Kimball's death. First counselor Marion G. Romney resumed service in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when President Ezra Taft Benson became the new prophet. President Benson called President Hinckley as his first counselor and President Monson as second counselor.
President Eyring was called as second counselor in the First Presidency on Oct. 6, 2007, under the leadership of former President Gordon B. Hinckley. President Eyring’s appointment to the First Presidency came on Aug. 10, 2007, following the death of President James E. Faust, who served as second counselor.
The First Presidency was later reorganized on Feb. 3, 2008, following the death of President Hinckley on Jan. 27, who spent nearly 13 years as the church’s presiding leader. President Eyring was named first counselor to President Thomas S. Monson, and President Uchtdorf was added as second counselor in the newly organized First Presidency.
In recent history, the LDS Church president has come from the First Presidency. Both President Monson and President Hinckley were serving in the First Presidency when they were the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Nelson is the first president to have not served in the First Presidency since President Howard W. Hunter, who was the church’s 14th president from June 5, 1994, to March 3, 1995.
A total of eight presidents of the church never served in the First Presidency prior to being called the president, not including Joseph Smith who founded and organized the church in 1830. These include President Hunter, President Benson, President Kimball, President George Albert Smith, President Heber J. Grant, President Wilford Woodruff, President John Taylor, and President Brigham Young.
The First Presidency is generally comprised of members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, although, in the early days of the church, members of the First Presidency were not always a part of the quorum. For example, under President Young, Jedediah M. Grant, Daniel H. Wells and John Willard Young were each called as an apostle and counselor in the First Presidency, but were never a part of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In another instance, Alvin R. Dyer, who was called to serve as a counselor in the First Presidency on April 6, 1968, under President David O. McKay, was ordained an apostle the previous October but was never a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Following his service in the First Presidency, Dyer was called to be an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later to the Quorum of the Seventy.
Dyer was among three counselors, including Thorpe B. Isaacson and Joseph Fielding Smith, who served alongside first counselor Hugh B. Brown and second counselor N. Eldon Tanner under President McKay. Following the death of President McKay on Jan. 18, 1970, Joseph Fielding Smith was named the president of the church on Jan. 23, 1970.
J. Reuben Clark, who was a prominent United States attorney and the namesake for BYU’s law school, was called on April 6, 1933, to serve as President Heber J. Grant’s second counselor. One year later, he was called as an apostle of the church, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and first counselor to President Grant.
Clark would also serve as a first counselor to President George Albert Smith. He later served as both a second and first counselor to President McKay before his death on Oct. 6, 1961.
Members of the First Presidency are called as “special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ,” according to the LDS Church, and are responsible to “teach and testify of Him throughout the world.”
“Members of the First Presidency travel around the world to speak to members and local leaders; when not traveling, they counsel together and with other general church leaders on matters affecting the worldwide church, such as missionary work, temple building and spiritual and temporal welfare,” according to the LDS Church.
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